The Sandman

A short story.

On a wild and deserted beach, a peculiar phenomenon occurred. In a storm for the ages a spit of sand, wedged uniquely between weather-worn rocks, was shaped by the wind and waves into a statuesque structure. It stood tall, with what looked like arms, legs, and a head.

The next day, after the storm had passed, a local woman came across the structure. And as she stood observing it, it looked back at her and decided that it was no more a part of the beach as she was. It decided it was something completely apart from the sand and came to fear the sea that would dissolve it upon impact. So it ran from the shoreline, sheltered from the wind. It wrapped itself in protective clothing and draped itself in decoration. It became proud of its achievement and envious of those solid sand-less folks. When someone pointed out that it was no different from the sand on the beach it protested. How offensive!

“I am so much more” it argued.

“I’m the SandMan”.

He was determined to prove himself to be so much more than the sand from the beach, so he did everything he could to impress people. He worked hard to earn money, to perform to everyone he came across, and to have many friends and admirers. Eventually, he impressed people so much that they hardly noticed his consistency any longer. And he filled his life with so much entertainment that he barely ever had the time to think about his sandiness.

Of course, he was still fearful. Not only of the water and the wind but of losing everything he’d gained. And most of all he feared his admirers coming to see him as he truly was. Because the more he looked, he couldn’t help but see the similarity between himself and the sand.

He went to see a scientist who confirmed it too, he was indeed made of the same stuff — which shouldn’t have been a surprise since he came from the beach, what else could he have been made of? But it was so uncomfortable to think he was nothing more than that. So he looked elsewhere and found another explanation.

A holy man told him that there was another Sandman, far beyond the horizon, out of view, with great powers. He was similar in every way apart from being completely free of fear, never proud or envious. Most importantly, he lived in an eternal kingdom full of pleasures and free from suffering. And upon death, the Sandman might find himself there, never fearing the ocean or the wind, never to be alone again, forever loved.

Of course, the scientist and the holy man weren’t in agreement. And either way, the Sandman was stuck in the here and now, riddled by anxiety about what would happen tomorrow. He couldn’t escape his desire for more — more love, more respect, to have more and be more. More than just sand.

And then one day it all came to be too much. He’d had enough of running from his fears and chasing desires. The material life was expensive and hard to maintain. Boredom would always catch up and misery filled the gaps between highs.

“Can’t I be content as I am?” he wondered.

The scientists and the holy men hadn’t given him what he needed. He returned to the beach, willing to be destroyed if necessary. He had to know the truth.

It was calm when he arrived, with the waves gently lapping the shore. He felt his feet blend into the warm, soft sand and settled into the peace of it all. He stayed until day turned to night and the warmth fell away. The wind picked up and the waves grew. He felt the fear swell, the desire to run to safety. He sat with the wish to be free of it all, to wake up from the nightmare. He stayed put. He noticed that the rest of the sand on the beach was unchanged, perfectly at ease with the wind and the waves. It would flow wherever the forces took it, shifting and forming new shapes, none better or worse than the last. Couldn’t he too be so assured, so equanimous? He was made of the same stuff after all. He decided to be more like the sand once again, to be still and let everything be as it would be.

He lay down and let the waves chomp at his ankles, and then his thighs. He was disappearing. What would be left of him? He wondered. Would anyone remember him? He let the thoughts pass by, no longer believing them to be true. They disappeared as quickly as they arose as if blown away on a gust of wind. Fear subsided. There was peace here, with or without the storm, and he could feel it now.

When the morning came, the local woman walked the beach as she always did after a storm. She found a familiar statue-like structure, wedged uniquely between weather-worn rocks. It stood tall, with what looked like arms, legs, and a head.

It was made entirely of sand and completely free of fear, neither proud nor envious.



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AJ Abbey

AJ Abbey

Focussed on philosophy & wellbeing. Learning as I go along and sharing whatever arises. Certain only that I will be forever uncertain.